John E. Marshall, Jr.'s Blog

Page 1 - Holy Thursday

Page 2 - Emergence

Page 3 - Where Is God Located?

Page 4 - Words

Page 5 - Faith, Hope & Love

Page 6 - What God's Voice Telling Us

Page 7 - Are We Wrapped Up Too Much in Earthly Things?



by John E. Marshall, Jr. | 2014

This is the time of our emergence. Last week, we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, where after dying on the cross, emerged from his tomb. After 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, we are called to emerge, as well. Remember, Lent is a time where we are to do deep reflection of our lives as souls. Jesus did a like reflection when He went into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. He was tempted and probably delved as deep into His humanity during that time as any of us has ever done. The hope is, during your practice of Lent, you did some deep reflection, too.

How deep did you go? Did you find some things that surprised you about yourself? If done right, it had to be uncomfortable. Delving deep into our own humanity can be really scary. If we are honest with ourselves, we all have, what we ourselves would consider, some pretty dark places. Sure, we project ourselves as faithful followers of Christ, but did you ask yourself how faithful you were to God? Did you discover that you were not as loving as you should be? Did you discover you were not as kind? As giving? Did you find a selfish person in yourself? Are you as clean in heart, in thinking, and in living as you thought? Probably not. You are human, after all.

You know, we have an awful lot of symbolism in our practice of faith. Especially during the season that we had just been through. We talk a lot about blood during this season, especially on how Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself and the spilling of His blood washed our sins away. Have you ever asked how that is? What was it about Him being crucified and spilling His blood that saved us? There is a lot of talk about the cross, Him being nailed to it and His suffering. Indeed, there is a lot of symbolism in our practice of faith. Yet, we concentrate too much on those things, I think. Sure, the spilling of His blood and His suffering are so very deep symbols for us. His being crucified is deep, as well. What is not talked about enough, however, is the deep symbolism of His life here as a human. In our tradition, Jesus symbolized God taking human form in which to save us. Why? I believe that we are to look at Jesus Christ as to the Way to live our lives. He did say, remember, that He was the WAY, truth, and the life. The WAY in not just acknowledging Him as our savior. The WAY is how He lived and that is how we are saved. In human form, He was just as tempted as the rest of us, and this is especially shown in struggles in the wilderness. This is why we have a season called Lent in the first place. It is why we must delve deep into ourselves and face the darkness we all have.

Look at the life of Christ, God in human form. He was born of a mother. He was doubted just are we are all doubted in this world. This was a man who lived His entire life trying to teach each other to love God and love each other, no matter what and no matter who. This was a man who tried to teach us to be kind and compassionate with everyone in our path. Moreover, this was a man that is trying to teach us that loving our neighbor necessarily means sacrificing ourselves in the name of love. He was not self-serving, as most of us live our lives being. Admit it, most of your life you think about, mostly, yourself. We live a lot of our lives in a self-serving type of way. We are consumed with a “What’s in it for me” attitude. Everyone is separate from us in terms of importance. When we are cut off from one another, we are, indeed, in darkness. When we cut ourselves off from others, we cut ourselves off from God.

In our second reading today, 1John: 1, John the Evangelist wrote, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In my mind, this means that we must not only delve deep within ourselves and face our darkness; we must bring that darkness to light. This requires reflection and subsequent emergence from that darkness.

Part of how we emerge is finally figuring out that we are not separate and that we are all children of God and God is not separated from any of us. Indeed, all of creation is evidence of that as God created everything and everyone. I have said this before, but we are always standing in front of a burning bush and we are always standing on hallowed ground. God is present everywhere and that means He is present in everyone and everything and we are always being spoken to through all of His creation. How silly it is for us to think that we are somehow separate from one another. How stupid it is for us to be selfish and only self-serving. Yet, we even pray to God as if He is out there, somewhere. Over there, somewhere. How we are ever apart from where He is. God is always right there as a burning bush, talking to you. You are never alone. He is always saying as Jesus said in our Gospel today, John:20, “’Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” Let’s think about that a little bit. I ask you to take an in breath. Now exhale. You see, the presence of God, the presence of Christ is as close to you as that. You live the miracle of God in every moment and every day. Every time you blink your eyes, God is there. Every time you breathe, He is there. For sure, Jesus, God, is not any other place but with you. Intimately. In addition, for sure, God is not in any other place than with anyone else, too. You are never outside of the presence of Christ. Never outside of the presence of God.

It seems like it though, sometimes, doesn’t it? It feels like God is not there a lot of times, doesn’t it? We all have our trials. We all have our struggles. We all have times in which we feel insecure and faulty. We may try to lie to ourselves and project ourselves to others that we all the self-security in the world, but we do not if we are true to ourselves. We often try to hide our faults as if somehow, they are not there within us, but most assuredly, they are there. We do not often wish to project our humanity, but human we are. In addition, we simply cannot emerge from our darkness unless we admit that we are and bring that, too, to light. That doesn’t mean that we should not seek to improve ourselves or rid ourselves of the faults that we have. That would mean staying in the darkness. Bringing our darkness to light means recognizing that which we might not feel comfortable about ourselves and working on those things to be better humans.

Admit it. You can be a better person. You could be a better human. You can be kinder. You can be more loving. You can be more compassionate. You can be more giving. You can be more forgiving. You could be a better friend to your friends. You can be a better mother or father. You could be a better mate. You can be less selfish and self-serving. If you’d notice, being better seems to have a lot to do with expanding yourself outside of yourself. It means attempting to erase the boundaries that you put up around yourself. It means being more giving and forgiving and living much less in isolation. Easy, this is not. We are taught most of our lives that we need to be for our individual selves. Especially in western society, we are taught individualism at a very young age. We are told not to trust. Stuff that was in our first reading today, Acts 4, feels uncomfortable for most of us. In fact, it sounds like communism, for goodness sake. I mean, really? “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possession, but everything they owned was held in common…”? Doesn’t sound like any capitalistic society to me. “There was not a needy person among the, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

This type of talk can make one who has lived their lives in this country very uncomfortable, indeed. I mean, sell my stuff and give the proceeds to others so that they may feel more comfortable? I don’t know about you, but that goes against the grain of everything I was taught in this society. Again, I don’t know about you, but I am not going to sell all of my things and just give it away to everyone any time soon. I am not there, yet. However, I think the point that is being made in Acts 4 is that the goal should be the dissolving of self to God and all of His creation. Hard, hard, hard stuff! Face it, following the Way of Christ is not for chumps or punks. Look at His life. He did not live a life of riches. He did not live a life of ease. He wore neither fancy clothes nor any fancy shoes. He lived a life of loving and giving.

It brings to mind what would Jesus think of many of the churches that we have today, especially these mega-churches? What would He think of all that opulence? What would He think about cash stations being in the hallways before entering the church? What would He think about the fancy cars and the fancy clothes of the preachers? Would Jesus even be caught dead in any of these places? Get it? Caught dead. Point is, we made following the Way of Christ into something He never intended, I think. All the hoopla, singing and shouting, and attention given to services on Sundays with little or nary a thought of helping anyone that hurting and hoping in this world outside of the church and outside of Sundays is very Christ-like I think. Sure, worshiping and being thankful to God is all very well and good. We should be thankful. We should be joyful for the Grace He has given us all. However, is that enough in following the Way?

These are all things we feign to think about because it cuts too close to our considering that we may be too individualistic in our approach to our spirit. Emerging is no easy task. It is hard to delve deep and clean house, but delving deep and cleaning house is what we must do in preparing the houses of our souls to received and fully breathe in the Holy Spirit. We have to become less selfish. We have to be more forgiving. We have to be more loving. We have to be more conscious of other people and be more compassionate to those that are hurting in this world. We have to bring ourselves to the point of displaying more kindness and more respect to other people, even if they are different from us, believe in different things, live in different ways, look different than us. Even when they are not us. Jesus didn’t think of Himself but thought of us in His sacrifice. His lesson in the Resurrection was partly to convey the notion that sacrifice for others is not the death of ourselves but the WAY of gaining new life. Emerging. Like a seed that grows into a flower, breaking through the crust and dirt of this world to pass through the darkness and getting to the light.

Don’t you see? We are all seeds, planted by God, to emerge. To become greater than we are right now to fulfill our purposes. We are powered by our Spirits and inspired through the Hope that we have in God. The Hope that is derived from Faith. And every day, we burst through more crust and more dirt to become better people. If you call yourself a person of Faith, can you deny that you are a better being than you were before? Regardless of the troubles and pains that you are facing today, are you not better than you were before in total? Have you not grown from a place that you are glad that you have grown from? No doubt about it. When you affix yourself to God and the Way of Jesus Christ, you emerge. You grow. Are you perfect? Of course, you are not. But when you face your imperfections and take steps to become better, you become better. You grow. You emerge.

In a couple of weeks, we will be in the season of the Pentecost. We will observe our receipt of the Holy Spirit. The breath of Jesus Christ being blown within you. You have it. I have it. We all have it. Again, take a deep in breath. Exhale. Enough of all the darkness. Enough of all the despair. Enough all the lamenting and beating yourselves up. Enough of feeling down and feeling without hope. Face your darkness and build yourself to defeat it. We have entered the season of Hope. It has long past time for you to break through the crust of the world and of yourself. It is time to embrace yourself and embrace others in the same embracing. It’s about time. It’s time to emerge.

John E. Marshall, Jr.'s Facebook Page

Blog Page One


Social Security Administration:
Chicago Metropolitan Area Work Incentives Coordinator · January 1983 to present · Chicago, Illinois I am the point person for the agency in the city for issues surrounding people with disabilities and work. I am also the point person for the agency in the city for issues surrounding the homeless. I represent the agency in coalitions boards, and other organizations to establish joint policies, programs, and events that seek to engender and facilitate work for people with disabilities and help to entitle the homeless to Social Security benefits. I am also the coordinator for 28 Work Incentive Liaisons/Technical Experts located in all 20 SSA offices in metro Chicago.

US Postal Service

University of Chicago:
Masters · School of Social Service Administration · Chicago, Illinois

Northeastern Illinois University:
Class of 1984 · Sociology · Chicago, Illinois

Mendel Catholic College Preparatory High School
Class of 1977 · Chicago, Illinois

Bradley University
Peoria, Illinois

John E. Marshall, Jr.





Art Frames

Order Framed Art Quotes by Dean A. Banks, D.D.
Click the pic to order prints!
Click here for Main Store.

Creating More Blessings by Dean A. Banks, D.D.
Creating More Blessings
by Dean A. Banks, D.D.




Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

Spiritual Humor

Spiritual Humor